By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Lobbyists are scrambling to nail down sponsors for their clients’ key legislative initiatives following House Speaker Beth Harwell’s announcement that she wants to impose a cap on how many bills are filed each year.
Under the Nashville Republican’s proposal, each lawmaker would be limited to 10 bills each legislative session. That comes out to an average of about two bills each for the more than 500 lobbyists registered to ply their trade at the state Capitol.
“When we heard the news I called one of my colleagues and said, ‘The session just started,'” said Mark Greene, the lobbyist for the Tennessee Lobbyists Association who also specializes in the health field. “The experienced, smart lobbyists got engaged that first day or two and went to people and asked them to hold a spot.”
Greene said lawmakers with a reputation for successfully shepherding bills through the legislative process will be in high demand because of the limits.
“It’s going to be very difficult to get a popular sponsor,” he said. “If you wait until session, those guys are going to be filled up.”
Another effect could be that more junior lawmakers get more involved in prominent legislative initiatives than in the past, he said.
Rep. David Hawk of Greeneville has won a new term while facing charges of domestic assault against his wife, unofficial returns indicate.
The Republican lawmaker, who stepped down as chairman of the House Conservation and Enviornment Committee after being charged in March, had 11,382 votes to 8,124 for former Democratic state Rep. Eddie Yokley, according to unofficial returns with most of the vote counted.
ERWIN, Tenn. (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service has completed its purchase of a large undeveloped tract of land in the Appalachians.
The tract, known as Rocky Fork, is nearly 10,000 acres and lies in Unicoi and Greene counties in East Tennessee. The Johnson City Press (http://bit.ly/WvsG15) reported $5 million in funding from the USDA helped it finalized the purchase of 1,200 acres — the last section that was privately owned.
Preserving as much of Rocky Fork as possible became a priority of the U.S. Forest Service when it acquired the first parcel of it in 2008 as the land went up for sale.
In all, the Forest Service has spent $40 million to keep 7,667 acres open for public use. The Conservation Fund owns about 2,000 acres of the tract.
“This final Forest Service acquisition is huge, not only in the number of acres, but in potential economic impacts,” District Ranger Terry Bowerman said in a statement about the purchase. “It will also help conserve and protect many outstanding natural and scenic resources. This is truly a dream come true for many people.”
Sarah Moore Greene, one of Knoxville’s most influential civil rights icons and community leaders, died this morning, reports the News Sentinel. Ms.Greene — who celebrated her 102nd birthday in February — had been recovering from an illness and had been in and out of the Holston Health & Rehabilitation Center for physical therapy after a bout of pneumonia.
John Sibley, 64, Ms. Greene’s godson, said Ms. Greene was taken Monday to the Physicians Regional Medical Center on Broadway because of dehydration.
“She was resting in her room and just slipped away,” he said.
…Greene was the first black member of the Knoxville Board of Education and a Tennessee delegate to the Republican National Convention. She is also a former state and local president of the NAACP and over the years fought for desegregation and civil rights in schools and the wider community.
Every year around her birthday, the students at Sarah Moore Greene Magnet Technology Academy honored her.
The school was named after Greene in 1974 and became a magnet school with a focus on technology in 1996.
From Hank Hayes comes this report on the race in state House District 3:
Timothy Hill has been down this road before.
Hill, a Blountville businessman and former press secretary for ex-U.S. Rep. David Davis, looked like the front-runner to win the GOP primary for Tennessee’s 3rd House District seat two years ago.
Hill, the brother of GOP state Rep. Matthew Hill of Jonesborough, had name recognition in Sullivan County, a number of campaign donors, and a conservative message to go with his candidacy.
But Mountain City Republican Scotty Campbell’s base of Johnson County voters in the district showed up in droves, and Hill came in second to Campbell after splitting the rest of the primary vote with five other candidates. Campbell, a former legislative aide to ex-House Speaker Kent Williams of Elizabethton, easily defeated Democrat Joe Mike Akard and two independents in the November 2010 general election.
After one term, Campbell isn’t seeking re-election, and Hill is again seeking the seat.
And now Hill is facing another GOP candidate with considerable Johnson County name recognition — former Mountain City Mayor Kevin Parsons. Also in the primary race are Karen Greene Morrell and Lee White, both of Bluff City.
Brandon Puttbrese, communications director of the state Democratic Party, thought enough of the following Greeneville Sun story to email it around. It’s about a meeting of the Greene County Republican Women’s Club, whose chair is the wife of state Rep. David Hawk, R-Greeneville.
Hawk has three opponents in the Republican primary, who aren’t mentioned in the story by name. They are Duncan Cave of Greeneville, Ted Hensley of Chuckey and Bradley Mercer of Afton.
Also not mentioned in the story is the misdemeanor domestic violence charge pending against Hawk for an alleged assault on his spouse. An excerpt: During the club’s monthly meeting, President Krystal Hawk called on those running to prepare a clean race and asked the Republican members to support the primary winner against any candidate.
“If you’re a candidate, I expect you to join [as a sponsor of the women’s club]. Period, end of discussion,” she said on Monday.
Hawk explained that the club will vocally support all Republican candidates through the primary elections and financially support the Republican primary winners.
At the close of the meeting, she emphasized this point further without any specific reference to a particular person or incident. Hawk is the wife of State Rep. David Hawk, who is seeking re-election to the 5th District in a contested Republican primary.
“Everyone in this room has had a personal strife or a personal tragedy,” she said. “We stand by each other. At the end of the day, we will stand behind whichever candidate [wins the Republican primary]. Be good mannered and be well respectful of all the candidates.”
The speaker for the club’s luncheon, Claire Crouch, state president for the Tennessee Federation of Republican Women, drove a similar point home as well.
“I don’t care who it is, I’m for him,” Crouch said in reference to the presidential race. “That’s who I want — the Republican.”
At the state level, she called for the same support of any Republican candidate over a Democrat, even if the Democratic candidate is a good person.
“Once we have one good person standing, please make sure that’s the person that can beat (former state Rep.) Eddie Yokley,” she said in reference candidates for the 5th House District seat in the state legislature.
“He must not be underestimated,” she said of Yokley. “He is a good man. He’s a kind man, but he’s a Democrat.”
Crouch, who lives in Newport in Cocke County, called for the same unity behind the Republican primary winner in the 11th District seat (now held by Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, opposed in the primary by Phil Morgan Jr. of Newport), noting that Democratic primary candidate Marjorie Ramsey is also a good person but a “dyed-in-the-wool Democrat.”